Bodies 'left to decompose' on Waterford hospital trolleys

Image source, Google Maps
Image caption,
Waterford Hospital is some 80 miles (125km) west of Cork on the Republic of Ireland's southern coast

An Irish hospital has pledged to take action after it emerged bodies were being left to decompose on trolleys.

Four consultants at University Hospital Waterford said families faced "almost unspeakable" distress.

They added that, due to inadequate refrigeration facilities: "Most bodies lie on trolleys, often leaking body fluids on to the floor."

A hospital spokeswoman said it was currently examining arrangements to address the issues.

The problems were outlined in a letter to Gerry O'Dwyer, chief of the South - South West Hospital Group.

The letter was sent last October, but it has been claimed that no significant action has yet been taken to address the situation.

'Gaseous decomposition'

The letter, signed by consultant pathologists Prof Rob Landers, Dr Fergus MacSweeney, Dr Nigam Shah and Dr Christine Shilling, said: "Bodies decompose in the corridors, leading to closed-coffin funerals with relatives unable to view the remains as a result of gaseous decomposition."

"The cramped facilities expose the public to the noise and odours of a working postmortem room when visiting the public areas of the mortuary for identification/viewing purposes and funerals," added the letter, which was first reported by the Waterford News and Star.

The pathologists' letter warned that the mortuary "poses serious health risks, due to the danger of infection spreading and the circulation of unfiltered air".

It stated that the facility had been deemed unfit for purpose in 2004, but the HSE has failed since to replace it.

The hospital is currently examining interim arrangements to address the issues raised, a spokeswoman told the BBC.

"University Hospital Waterford has recently received approval for a new replacement mortuary building," she said.

"It is expected that the request for tender will be issued shortly with the expectation that construction will commence before the end of this year."